Family gathers to discuss 'The Choking Game'

Mark Boyle investigates a dangerous and deadly game kids and teens are playing across the country and in North Carolina.

ROCK Hill, S.C. -- In the Charlotte area alone, two teens have recently died after taking part in "The Choking Game."

But this so-called game is a serious matter. Officials in York County say the game isn't necessarily new, but the trend is growing.

Fourteen-year-old Carson Steele of York County and eleven-year-old Garrett Pope, Jr. of Lancaster County both died after taking part in the activity.

At Sullivan Middle School Thursday night, the York County Coroner and victim's family members gathered to spread the word after the game left their families devastated. 

Both parents of the York County victims attended and addressed the grief they've faced. For Carson's parents, Ricky and Jennifer Steele, it was their first time speaking since their son's death.

"When I opened the door, I stood there for a couple seconds cause I didn't really know what I was looking at," Ricky said. 

At first, Carson's parents thought he had committed suicide, but after going through his phone investigators quickly realized he was taking part in the deadly game. Carson had recorded himself cutting off his circulation to get high several times prior to his death.

"In one of the videos he said, 'Okay, I'm getting ready to do this, I hope I don't get hurt," Jennifer said.

York County Coroner, Sabrina Gast says she is unaware of other deaths in York County caused by the choking game but worries the numbers are higher than some think.

"It's very likely that we've had some deaths that have been ruled a suicide that actually will be lead back to this activity,” Gast explained.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been dozens of deaths attributed to the choking game nationwide.

The Coroner says parents play a key role in helping prevent deaths and listed what they should look for. 

1) Marks or discoloration in neck area
2) Objects in room used to cut circulation to their brain
3) Signs of disorientation
4) Hoarseness in voice

In addition to the choking game, there are other dangerous activities like train dodging and car surfing that are creating grave concern.

The CDC says it knows of at least 58 deaths associated with car surfing nationwide. Teens will stand on top of moving cars and try to "surf" while the car moves at a high rate of speed.

Hundreds of videos posted online to sites like YouTube that show the danger of these deadly games.

In order to put an end to tragic loss of life like Carson and Garrett's, The Coroner and victim's parents are speaking out. They encourage families to initiate conversation and take action.

"You don't think that it can happen to your family," said Garrett's mother, Stacey Pope, while fighting back tears. "It can happen." 

Copyright 2016 WCNC


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